What is Taiwan’s “porcupine strategy” and how effective is it?
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According to experts, Taiwan will have to rely on its “porcupine strategy” to compensate for the difference in strength if it has any hope of defeating an invasion by China.
The porcupine strategy has come up more and more in the conversation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and with the potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Strategists see it as the best way for a smaller, inferior military power to try to go head-to-head with military giants, as best shown in Ukraine.
Newt Gingrich, in a Fox News op-ed published last year, called for Taiwan to become “a porcupine,” which would require European and American allies to provide Taiwan with as many anti-ship weapons, mines air and shoulder launched marines. – shoot missile launchers as possible.
Matt McInnis of the Institute for the Study of War described it as a way for a smaller state to effectively fight and perhaps even defeat a larger power. This doesn’t mean abandoning any high-end conventional weapons, but balancing it with a healthy, if not stronger, focus on smaller, more versatile weapons.
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“You have to bring in some classic high-end conventional capabilities like advanced aircraft, air fighters, some Abrams tanks … but they have to be rebalanced with an increasing number of asymmetric capabilities,” McInnis told Fox News Digital.
“These many little ones [weapons] They’re going to be critical to taking advantage of Taiwan’s geography, the fact that it’s on the defensive, that you always have a defensive advantage,” he added. “You have to bring cruise missiles, drones, mines, mortars as if you were. seeing in Ukraine that kind of capabilities would make it difficult for China to pull off an invasion.”
In Ukraine, soldiers must take out tanks and planes, using a relatively smaller and cheaper force to level the field. The strategy is based on supplying the smaller army with a wide range of small but light and less expensive weapons or equipment that allow them to take advantage of doing big damage with a smaller punch.
“Faced with the prospect of an invasion by force from the People’s Republic of China … what Taiwan needs are weapons systems that can effectively counter the invasion,” said James Anderson, Acting Under Secretary of Defense of the President Trump, on Fox News Digital. “The PRC needs large amphibious ships to invade, but Taiwan does not need large ships to defend itself…. [it] it needs a lot of anti-ship coastal missiles, among other defensive systems.”
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“Taiwan does not need to match the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) weapon for weapon. It should pursue an asymmetric strategy with the right mix of defensive weapons to offset the potential of a PRC invasion,” he explained .
Anderson pointed to Israel as another example of a smaller nation that has managed to compete with much larger militaries throughout its history, as well as the Baltic states, which have pushed back Russian invasions for centuries despite the vast disparity of military power
“Taiwan needs weapons systems that are versatile, resilient and not too expensive, but in significant numbers,” Anderson said. “What they don’t need are very large, vulnerable and expensive platforms that they can’t afford to procure and maintain.”
The strategy may have taken on greater importance now that China appears to have begun to show how it might approach an invasion, something experts have long called very difficult because of the lack of a land-based approach. constant, making it even more difficult to build up strength. .
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But Beijing in recent weeks has built up forces around the island as part of what it says are regular military exercises, partly in coordination with Russia. The blatant threat and imposing nature of these exercises have led critics to argue that the US needs to change its decades-long policy of ambiguity to strengthen Taiwan’s deterrence capabilities.
“The biggest problem with the porcupine strategy is that it alone does not guarantee deterrence,” Anderson said. “It’s a necessary but not sufficient condition of deterrence, so what’s needed to complement the defensive strategy … is for the United States to bring more clarity and less ambiguity about what it would do in the event of a crisis.”
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“Simply put, the United States must abandon its policy of strategic ambiguity, which served this country well for several decades but has outlived its usefulness,” he added.